Friday, May 17, 2024
Sunday, May 19, 2024

Fernandez Ranch

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Note that children 14 and over are welcome on V-O-Cal projects. Volunteers under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

Project Background and Description

One of John Muir Land Trust’s most significant projects, Fernandez Ranch merges two previously separate parcels into an 1,185 acre preserve of rolling hills, deep canyons, and breathtaking panoramic views of permanently protected open space, fostering the thriving coexistence of people, plants, and animals. Wooded hills grace the property, visible just south of the John Muir Parkway (Highway 4) between Martinez and Hercules, offering a scenic backdrop behind the Franklin Canyon Golf Course. Fernandez Ranch boasts a key segment of Rodeo Creek, flowing perennially, along with key tributaries that maintain water levels for much of the year. JMLT serves as the permanent owner and steward of over one-fifth of the land within the Rodeo Creek watershed, safeguarding a delicate ecosystem that provides habitat for various special-status species, including Cooper’s hawk, northern harrier, California red-legged frog, western pond turtle and the occasional roaming mountain lion. The riparian scrub alongside Rodeo Creek features arroyo willow, thickets of California blackberry, and short-spiked hedge nettle. This vegetation forms a crucial movement corridor for both aquatic and terrestrial species, offering secure cover along its length.
V-O-Cal will continue its previous work enhancing the trails at Fernandez Ranch. Our focus will be on rerouting the Canyon Loop Trail to bypass an old ranch road that becomes impassably muddy after rain. The redesigned trail will meander through forests, across grasslands, and into a quaint buckeye grove, featuring a 5% decrease in elevation and several grade reversals. Fernandez Ranch boasts over 10 miles of multi-use trails, offering vital links to the Bay Area Ridge Trail and the San Francisco Bay Trail.
More info about:
Fernandez Ranch
More about what it is like to volunteer on a project:

Project Pictures

Help recruit more volunteers! Download the project flyer here

Project Flyer


The camp and staging areas for Fernandez Ranch are located at the picnic and staging area. Access is available via Christie Road, a small road that is accessible only from eastbound Highway 4.

Driving Directions

Fernandez Ranch - 1081 Christie Road, Martinez, CA 94553

From I-80:

  • Head east on Highway 4.
  • Take the first exit after the Franklin Canyon Golf Course onto Christie Road.
  • Use caution both exiting and, particularly, entering Highway 4. Christie is a rural exit from busy Highway 4.
  • Fernandez Ranch is 0.7 miles down Christie Road on your right.

From Martinez:

  • Head west on Highway 4.
  • Take the Franklin Canyon Exit.
  • Turn left under the freeway, then left againto merge onto Highway 4 eastbound.
  • Take the first exit after the Franklin Canyon Golf Course onto Christie Road.
  • Use caution both exiting and, particularly, entering Highway 4. Christie is a rural exit from busy Highway 4.
  • Fernandez Ranch is 0.7 miles down Christie Road on your right.
Map Link

Carpool/Parking Information


Level of Effort

Project Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet
If a parking pass is required at the project site, it will be included with the fact sheet.

Project Schedule

5:00pm - Registration and camping open. DINNER IS NOT PROVIDED.

Saturday7:30am - Registration, light breakfast, and lunch packing begin at Center Camp.
8:30 am – Morning greeting, announcements, stretching and safety talk.
9:00 am – Project begins.
12:30pm - Break for lunch on trail.
3:30 pm – Stop work and return to camp. Clean and store tools.
4:00 pm – Drinks, appetizers and socializing. Showeres are available.
6:00 pm – Dinner. 

Sunday7:30am - Registration and lunch packing begin. Hot breakfast is served.
8:30 am – Morning greeting, announcements, stretching and safety talk.
9:00 am – Project begins.
11:30 am – Break for lunch on trail.
1:30pm - Stop work, clean tools, load tools into boxes and return to camp.

Things to Do Before or After the Project

What to Bring and Wear

For your safety and protection from hazards, please be prepared with the following items:
  • Sturdy shoes or boots with good tread. Ankle support will be important where we are building new trails. Sandals and open-toed shoes will not be permitted
  • Water bottles or a water bladder that can hold at least 2 liters of water. (You will not be allowed on the trail without water.)
  • Day pack to carry your water and lunch.
  • Work gloves. (If you don’t have your own gloves, V-O-Cal will provide them. Please return them at the end of the project.)
  • V-O-Cal provides all necessary tools, as well as training on tool use and safety.
  • Sunglasses, hat and sunscreen.
  • Insect repellent and allergy medicine (if you normally need these things when working outdoors).
  • Reusable plate/bowl, eating utensils, and mug/cup.
  • A change of clothes for each work day and for lounging at camp to minimize the spread of poison oak.
  • Please come prepared for a variety of weather conditions (think layers!). Unless there is a serious storm predicted, we will work drizzle or shine.
If you are camping, you will also need the following items: 
  • A tent (if you have the option to bring a smaller tent, please do!)
  • A sleeping bag, sleeping pad and pillow.
  • A flashlight or headlamp.
  • A camp chair (if you don't want to sit on the ground).
  • Other camping gear that makes you comfortable


V-O-Cal provides all meals for volunteers from breakfast Saturday through lunch Sunday. Vegetarian options are available for all meals. (Please note that dinner is not provided on Friday.)
  • To minimize waste we ask that you bring your own reusable plates, coffee mug, cups and utensils. Hot water and soap are provided.
  • A continental breakfast is served Saturday morning.
  • Lunch is prepared before hitting the trail. You break for lunch on the trail around 12:30pm.
  • Please arrive at camp by 7:40am to register, eat breakfast and prepare your lunch.
  • Appetizers and beverages will be available after the work day on Saturday, usually around 4pm. Dinner will follow, usually around 5:30pm.
  • Hot breakfast is served Sunday morning.


SUN EXPOSURE | HYDRATION | HYPOTHERMIA Some of the work areas are fully shaded. However, please plan forsun protection, including sun hats, sun block and light long sleeveshirts. Please bring water bottles or a water bladder large enoughto hold at least 2 liters of water. Drink plenty of water throughoutthe work day. If you feel tired or weak, let your crew leader know,and take a break.

POISON OAK There is a risk of exposure to poison oak at the work site. Have yourcrew leader point some out to you if you don’t know what it lookslike. Clean with Tecnu (which we provide) after the work day and becautious when handling your dirty clothes.

TICKS | MOSQUITOES Mosquitoes could be active this time of year so bug spray and longsleeved, lightweight shirts are recommended. Ticks are always ahazard; light colored clothing makes them easier to spot when youcheck during and after the project.

SNAKES Snakes are present on the property. Use caution, especially whenpicking items up off the ground or moving rocks.

SHARP TOOLS Please listen to your crew leader’s tool safety talk and observe proper tool use throughout the day.

Volunteer Project Team

  • V-O-Cal Executive Director Cathy Moyer
  • Project Team 1st Lead Joseph Cavaness
  • Project Team 2nd Lead Eliot Hudson
  • Technical Advisor Elissa Goldner
  • Camp Manager Pete Duringer
  • Kitchen Lead Kim Applequist
  • Crew Leader Manager Tomomi Yuasa
  • Registration Melanie Lee | Augusta Murphy
  • Outreach Lily Brady | Melinda Green | Morris Older
  • Tool Manager Cavine Johnson (Saturday) | TBD (Sunday)
  • Shopping Cathy Moyer | Chris Fishel
  • Truck | Warehouse Load Lead Duane Sheets | Curt Hutchins

Agency Partner

John Muir Land Trust

Project Sponsors

Project Sponsor

Special thanks to Bay Area Barns and Trails (BABT) for their generous grants supporting V-O-Cal these past few years. BABT assists landowners and land managers with preservation and maintenance of publicly accessible Bay Area barns, stables, pastures, staging areas, horse camps, and trails.

Additional thanks to our In Kind Sponsors for this Project

Connoisseur Coffee | Tecnu | REI | Sidley Austin | Metro Mobile Communications | Adventure Medical Kits | Clif Bar

Help recruit more volunteers! Download the project flyer here

Project Flyer

Other Upcoming Projects

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